Voodoo or Magic? Why Is the Shelby GT350 So Special?

The Ford Mustang Shelby GT350 has a long history of American muscle car merit. The first models proved that, with the magic of Carroll Shelby, the Ford Mustang could rear up and kick hard. Moreover, the latest models changed how we look at special edition Mustangs. So what is a “Voodoo” 5.2L V8, and why did it make the latest Shelby GT350 so special?

What is so special about the GT350?

The Shelby GT350 is unique for several reasons, chief among which is its heart. The S550-generation GT350 packs a naturally aspirated 5.2L Voodoo V8 engine. While that might not seem like a massive improvement in displacement over the 5.0L Coyote engine, it’s a Mustang first. The Voodoo uses flat-plane crankshaft architecture as opposed to cross-plane to create a tight V8 package with the ability to rev up to 8,250 rpm. 

The Shelby GT350 is one of the most special Ford Mustangs in the marque's lineup.
Ford Mustang Shelby GT350R | Ford

Moreover, the high-revving 5.2L V8 produces 526 horsepower. That doesn’t seem like much compared to the 700+ horsepower of contemporary Hellcats, but it’s something special. That horsepower figure represents the highest naturally aspirated horsepower of any Ford Mustang. It’s around 46 more horsepower than the stoutest Coyote-powered Bullitt or Mach 1 Mustangs. 

Is the Voodoo a good engine?

The Voodoo V8 is a good engine based on its merit alone. It’s the only flat plane crank in any factory Mustang since the namesake’s beginnings in the mid-sixties. Moreover, the high-revving naturally aspirated mill sounds unlike any other vehicle in Ford’s lineup. 

However, the Voodoo V8 engine isn’t without its problems. According to Car and Driver, a long-term review revealed that the GT350 drank oil disproportionately. Specifically, a 2017 Shelby GT350 consumed 21.5 quarts of oil in addition to regular oil changes during a 40,000-mile test. While their experience is less-than-optimal, not all Voodoo-equipped GT350s suffered from the same issue. 

Does any other vehicle have the Voodoo engine?

The Voodoo engine lives in the now-discontinued Ford Mustang Shelby GT350. Not only does the Voodoo not slip into any other Mustang, but it also avoids other vehicles in the Ford lineup. While the Blue Oval has offered F-150s with the 5.0L V8, no other Ford trucks or Mustangs got the Voodoo treatment. 

Part of the Shelby GT350’s appeal is its exclusivity. It’s the only special edition Ford Mustang with a naturally aspirated engine producing over 500 horsepower. Power like that is courtesy of the mighty flat-plane crank Voodoo V8 engine.  

The Shelby GT350 packs the unique Voodoo 5.2L V8.
Shelby GT350 | Ford
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What replaced the Shelby GT350?

While the Shelby GT350 is a sorely-missed part of the Ford Mustang lineup, it’s not without replacement. The most recent naturally-aspirated, track-ready range-topper in the Mustang lineup is the Mach 1. It packs the same Tremec 3160 six-speed manual transmission and several of the same performance features as the Shelby GT350 and GT500. However, the Mach 1 goes without the 5.2L Voodoo; instead, the Mach 1 produces 480 horsepower from a Coyote mill. 

However, the new generation of Mustang is on the way, and the seventh-generation car promises to deliver. The S650 generation boasts the new Ford Mustang Dark Horse, a track-ready special edition that vies to be the first naturally-aspirated Coyote-powered Mustang with over 500 horsepower.